Parlay Your Parfait

October 15, 2017

Healthy and refreshing or decadent and sweet, parfaits are an underrated treat that your meeting and event attendees are sure to enjoy. Plus, they’re simple to make! Serve them for breakfast, or whip up a sweet recipe and wow your guests with a mouthwatering dessert. Not sure where to start? We have a few ideas…

For Breakfast: A dash of granola with fresh fruit and yogurt is all you need, but a little creativity can go a long way. Your attendees will go bananas over this recipe.

Banana Split Breakfast Jar

1 16oz. mason jar
1 small banana, sliced
1 cup whole strawberries, sliced
½ cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Place ½ of the banana slices in the bottom of the mason jar.
Alternate layers with half of the vanilla greek yogurt and strawberries. Then, top with the rest of the bananas and strawberries, finishing with the chocolate chips.

For Dessert: Parfaits are dessert made easy, and the possibilities are endless. Try this simple favorite!

Strawberry Jell-O Parfait

1 package (3 oz.) Strawberry Jell-O
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1 cup thawed Cool Whip whipped topping

Prepare Jell-O according to package directions. Set aside 1/3 cup.
Add fruit to remaining Jell-O and spoon into 4 to 5 dessert or wine glasses. Chill glasses at an angle until jello is set (overnight is best) Fold whipped topping into remaining (1/3 cup) Jell-O. Refrigerate until ready to use.

For a little something extra:
Great creative with the way you’re serving your libations.

Oreo Cookie Crumble

15 Oreos
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream very chilled
1/3 cup Baileys very chilled
1/4 cup powdered sugar


Crush the Oreo cookies into crumbles, then set aside.
Place chopped semi-sweet chocolate in a small bowl. Heat milk until steaming, then pour over chocolate. Let sit for 2-3 minutes, then stir. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
Using a stand mixer, add in chilled heavy cream, Baileys, and powdered sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Divide cream mixture in half. The first half of the whipped cream will be left alone and is ready to use in the parfait. The second half will be mixed with the chocolate. When ready, slowly add the chocolate mixture over this half of the whipped cream, gently (yet thoroughly) folding them together until completely mixed.
Parfaits can be served immediately. If you’d like the chocolate layer to be firmer, chill parfaits for 2-3 hours before serving.

Have your own way to party with parfaits? Tweet us at @TheGICC!

The best thing about meeting in the Georgia International Convention Center? We like to think it’s the food. That’s not something you hear often when meeting in convention centers! From culinary confections to savory sips, when you’re in the South it’s your obligation to treat members to memorable meals. While you’re sipping on sweet tea and snacking on pimento cheese spread, we can help you whip up a menu oozing with Southern charm.

1. When it comes to selecting a dinner menu, you can’t go wrong with a classic fried chicken dish. Our CulinAero locally raised fried chicken comes complete with buttermilk mashed potatoes smothered in pepper gravy.

2. Every true Southerner will argue that their state is home to the best BBQ, but you’ll make peace with members when you serve this popular lunch item in a Southern skillet. Try some pulled BBQ pork with country-style collard greens, mac and cheese, Georgia farm fresh coleslaw and add some kick with jalapeño cornbread.

3. A Southern meal is not complete without dessert. Georgia is known as the “Peach State,” so you can’t have a meeting here without adding this Atlanta staple to your menu. Tap into tradition with Georgia peach cobbler or mini pecan pies.

Choose from our Southern Favorites, True Comfort Food or Atlanta Classic menu selections or make a menu all your own. Need some inspiration? Take to Pinterest and share your challenge with us at @TheGICC.

Fall is finally here, and with it comes the appetizing aroma of dishes adorned with seasonal produce. From butternut squash and brussel sprouts to pumpkin and sweet potatoes, serving up seasonal ingredients will have attendees falling for your event. Satisfy those savory cravings with these autumn recipes.

Butternut Squash & Bacon Fall Breakfast Hash

● In large skillet, cook bacon and onions over medium-to-high heat, stirring occasionally until the bacon begins to crisp and onions becomes translucent. Remove from pan and set aside. Leave bacon grease in pan.
● Add butternut squash to pan in an even layer. Cook over medium-to-high heat until browned and tender, stirring occasionally and adding oil if needed.
● Return the bacon and onions to the pan with the squash. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
● With a spoon, move ingredients in pan around to make 4 circular spaces. Crack and drop eggs in spaces then cover. Cook eggs to preference.
● Remove from heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Pumpkin Crostini with Arugula Pesto

● Heat up the oven to 390° F and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
● Wash butternut pumpkin / squash and cut into 0.5” slices. Space evenly on the pan, brush the slices with olive oil, season with salt and bake for 30-40 mins in the preheated oven, flipping the slices to the other side halfway through baking time. Pumpkin is ready once the flesh is soft and caramelized.
● Place dry arugula, garlic and toasted walnuts in a herb chopper with olive oil. Blend into a fine pesto. Season with lemon juice, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar and nutritional yeast.
● Toast a few bread slices, top with hummus or ricotta and caramelized pumpkin slices. Season with black pepper, drizzle with arugula pesto and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts.

Maple-Glazed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

● Prepare sweet potatoes in microwave or oven, based on conventional cooking instruction.
● Meanwhile, lightly coat chicken breasts with steak seasoning. Heat butter in large skillet over medium-to-high heat; add chicken. Cook 5 to 6 minutes until no longer pink (170ºF), turning once halfway through cooking. Remove from skillet; cover and keep warm. Stir maple syrup into hot skillet; cook 2 minutes. Stir in green onions.
● Divide chicken and potatoes among 4 plates. Drizzle with maple syrup mixture.

Have more favorite fall catering recipes? Tweet us at @TheGICC!

Skip the boring soup and salad and opt for these inventive bites that will leave your guests buzzing for more.

Hors d’oeuvres set the tone for every attendee’s favorite part of the agenda – meal time! Make a good first impression by serving dishes that reflect the season, location or theme of the event. You might even consider eliminating your event’s sit-down dinner in favor of an evening of appetizers. Doing so not only allows for more creativity, but can also be easier on your event budget.

Smoothie Samplers

Early morning meetings make it easy to forget the most important meal of the day. Incorporate an art-themed event into the catering menu by filling up mini paint buckets with refreshing strawberry smoothie samplers.

Mini Chicken and Waffles

Who says you can’t eat breakfast for dinner? This Southern brunch favorite offers the perfect balance of savory and sweet.

Fried Oysters

Presentation is key when it comes to party foods. A stunning way to serve oysters is by re-using their shells. Bonus: they also serve as the plate.

Mini Grilled Corn on the Cob

These mini cobs are perfect to serve as a grab-and-go option and much easier to eat than trying to serve the whole ear. Keep a pat of butter nearby for attendees to add to their liking.

Edible Bouquets

Table settings don’t have to be just something to look at. Give your party a fresh treat to indulge in before the main course.

Looking for more inventive, bite-sized dishes or have an idea of your own? Tweet us at @TheGICC. Our catering team is ready to serve!

In providing food and services to a large group of people, we have some responsibility to maintain a level of sustainability in all provisions. When developing your catering menu, consider the items below to make your meeting’s impact on our planet a little better.

Source Local + Seasonal Ingredients
When you bring your meeting to a destination, you have the opportunity to impact the community in more ways than economically through room nights. Did you know CulinAero prides itself on offering a fresh experience with every meal? We source organic produce locally from surrounding areas to provide options for farm-to-table menus. In addition to serving local produce, make sure to design your menu around your meeting’s season. Let seasonal produce dominate your catering menu for the most sustainable and cost-friendly options.

Ditch Disposable Serveware*
*Unless it’s recyclable! And then, make sure to recycle it!
You can reduce your meeting’s waste by sticking to ceramic mugs over styrofoam cups and serving iced or fruit-infused water in a beverage dispenser with a spout instead of bottled! Did you know that cans are infinitely recyclable? Glass is harder to recycle than aluminum and most cities have now discontinued recycling glass receptacles. When choosing your beverages for the bar, opt for a canned option over bottled drinks.

Plan Portions Accurately
Excessive leftovers are typically a result of poor planning. Be specific with measuring the amount of food needed per guest. If you’d rather be liberal with the quantity of food, come up with a plan. Can you get creative with your leftovers if there’s surplus? If you can’t think of a way to reuse any leftover food, look into local food donation options.

Consider More Meatless Options
Health benefits aside, centering meals around vegetables are a more sustainable catering option. Fundamentally, growing produce requires far fewer resources than raising livestock – free-range or not. We understand that a totally meatless menu is not an option for all meetings, but consider providing a strong vegetarian option instead of two different meat options. Should you choose to offer meat, let us help you source the protein fresh from farms in the area.

How have you seen catering menus adopt a sustainable angle? Tweet us at @TheGICC with new ways for our team to try.

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Planning and preparing a dinner party is a time commitment. Save yourself the scrambling by food prepping before your big event! Use the following tips to guide you to a successful party meal with plenty of planning.

Decide on the Menu Well in Advance
Consider the complexity of your desired menu when compared to the time you have to prepare the day of, in addition to the complexity of the ingredients. Confirm your menu selections with your attendees to ensure that there are no dietary or allergy restrictions that may interfere with the meal. Once you have decided on the menu items, you’ll have plenty of time to collect recipes or even go through a trial run to ensure a smooth final process.

Go Grocery Shopping at Least a Week Before
Once you’ve decided on the menu items, take a look at the ingredients you already have on hand, plus take stock of how many cooking utensils (pots and pans, baking dishes) you will need. Then make a shopping list of ingredients needed. Once you’ve purchased your stockpile, organize the ingredients and baking utensils together by dish in your home. This will help you visually conceptualize if you are missing anything important prior to cook time. Shopping a week in advance will save you any last minute trips to the store the day of.

Make Food in Batches
The easiest way to prepare large amounts of food at home is by cooking in stages. Start prepping the dishes that freeze or refrigerate well throughout the week leading up to the event. Most side dishes (like casseroles) can be prepped and stored in the refrigerator or freezer for a couple days before heating right before the event. Other items such as the main course, bread or fresh vegetables are best prepared right before the event.

What type of event do you have on the horizon?
Tweet us for menu recommendations at @TheGICC!

Food can leave an impression on attendees, but this doesn’t mean your spread must be extravagant or plentiful in a variety of options. You can create a simple menu that impresses without going overboard. Sometimes less is more, which can be the case when you’re working with a budget. Read on for our menu simplification tips.

Stick to the Basics
Cover your bases with the basics everyone enjoys. Make sure you have a strong appetizer, salad, main course and dessert. By choosing popular and widely-loved menu items, attendees will be pleased with the offerings even if there isn’t a large variety of options. Work with your caterer to identify popular dishes and use that as a starting point to build your menu. No one will be missing out on the cheesy squash casserole if you’re offering delicious macaroni and cheese.

Presentation is Everything
Disguise the simplicity of your dish in creative and tasteful ways. If executed correctly, an elaborate table setting which highlights the theme of the event could possibly make a turkey sandwich look exquisite and thoughtful. Likewise, by turning the food into a presentation in its own will please your guests. For example, a scoop of mashed potatoes may be a bore, but mashed potatoes served in the shape of a sunflower will impress.

Make it Customizable
A baked potato can seem simply plain Jane. Add in a DIY toppings bar and the outcomes are endless (and delicious)! Giving attendees the option to personalize their meal through interactive stations will ensure each guest is satisfied with a dish made their way.

Have an upcoming event?
Tweet us at @TheGICC for meal ideas!

3 Creative Table Settings

September 11, 2017

Presentation is everything when it comes to elevating your event catering. Creative table settings can be hard to come by, but essential for delivering your tasty creations. To create an impressive table setting, think about how you can incorporate your event’s theme into the presentation. The following examples will help jumpstart your creative process.

Food is Art Palette
Your food is truly a work of art; its presentation should not interfere with the experience. For the ATL Airport District’s annual meeting, our chefs created a masterpiece to further enhance the meeting’s “Art of Transformation” theme. Using a painter’s palette as inspiration for the breakfast plate, yogurt was transformed into a mini paint can, fruit skewers slid on to a small paintbrush and fruit extract splashed the plate. Taking the art theme one step further was essential to elevating this event with the smallest of touches.

Straight from the Stovetop
Nothing is fresher than food direct from the source. In this case, it’s served straight from the stovetop. Prepare, cook, then serve your food in the same dish for a sense of authenticity you can’t find anywhere else. The best utensils for both cooking and serving the meal are cast iron skillets, ramekins and wood planks. Just make sure your serving plate has thoroughly cooled before serving it to your guests.

Feel at Home
Make your attendees feel right at home with a setup like mom used to have. Using mismatched chairs and traditional dining tables, your guests will feel comfortable and cozy around the family dining table. This type of atmosphere works very well in a casual setting and should encourage conversations throughout your teams. Mismatched china and antique glasses can add just the right amount of kitschy comfort for your family-style meal.

Need a creative table setting to match your theme?
Tweet us for suggestions at @TheGICC!

For many guests, food is the most important (and memorable) aspect of an event. As a planner, it’s not just about food quality but quantity as well. It’s vital to find a balance between too much and just enough food. You may be asking yourself, “How much food do I need for my event?” First, nail down the guest list so that you have an accurate guest count. Next, use the following guidelines for each stage in the meal.

Will you have passed appetizers before the main dinner or will appetizers be the only food served? If the light bites will serve as the preview to the meal, order at least 6 pieces for each guest. If appetizers are the only source of food for your event, plan for at least double that amount with twelve pieces per guest. We suggest offering a variety of appetizers, at least 3-6 different kinds.

The Main Course
Unless you are having a seated and plated dinner with exact and strict attendance numbers, you will need to plan for additional servings for the main course. For the main dish, offer 1.5 servings for each guest in attendance. For the side dishes, a useful measurement is 1.5 cups per guest. Planning for excess of 1 serving will make up for over consumption of some guests and under consumption for others.

As a general rule of thumb, you should plan on offering 1.5 servings of dessert for each guest. This serving can depend on the type of dessert. For example, if you are providing ice cream, allow for 1 cup per guest. For cookies, generally 2-3 cookies per guest will suffice. If you are giving any type of cake, like a cupcake or slices of cheesecake, depend on 1.5 pieces per attendee. If the dessert is deliciously decadent, you may need more!

Bonus: Drinks
The food isn’t the only important part of the event. Drinks can sometimes be the item your guests look forward to the most! If serving cocktails or alcoholic drinks, the average number of drinks per guest per hour is 1.5. If you’re hosting a 4-hour event, plan on serving 6 alcoholic drinks per attendee. If alcohol is not served, the general rule for tea, lemonade and other drinks is 4 gallons per each 25 guests. If both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks are served, this amount can be cut in half to 2 gallons per 25 attendees.

Still need help planning your event menu?
Tweet us your attendance numbers at @TheGICC for suggested amounts and menus!

Beverages can be one of the most anticipated elements of events. For attendees who are looking for an alternative to alcoholic libations, it’s possible to have all the fun of cocktails minus the main ingredient. Let your attendees enjoy creative, handcrafted concoctions without worrying about a hangover.

Moscow Mule Mocktail
1/2 cup Ginger Beer
3 tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
3 tbsp Club Soda

Mix ingredients in a copper mug 3/4 full of crushed ice. Stir. Garnish with lime wedge.

Ginger Mimosa Mocktail
Ice (optional)
½ cup fresh orange juice
16 oz sparkling water
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, sliced
1 clementine, peeled and divided into slices

Add the ice and orange juice. Top off with sparkling water. Garnish with fresh ginger and clementine slices.

Bloody Mary Mocktail
Bloody Mary mix
Garlic powder
Black pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Blue cheese olives

Prepare your glass with a salty rim; mix Bloody Mary mix, a splash of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of garlic powder, and black pepper. Shake and pour over ice. Garnish with celery and olives.

Have you tried a fantastic alcohol-free cocktail?
Tweet us your recipe at @TheGICC!